As you can see, the blog changed looks, because I moved from Octopress to Ghost.

Recently, I got in some serious trouble with my Octopress blog, to the point where I couldn't publish any posts and I didn't see an easy fix.

I had switched from Ubuntu to Manjaro. Since then, I tried to preview and publish my octopress blog using Docker, so that I did not have to install specific stuff on my actual machine to generate my blog.

This turned out to give me a terrible time with Octopress:

  • My version of Octopress was old and not compatible with newer Ruby and Rubygem stuff
  • Dependencies broke
  • I had to update Octopress, which seemed hard
  • I was scared to break everything (again) if I pushed to OpenShift

This was so terrible that I needed a big change, if I still wanted to have a blog.

Less posts about the blog

I have the feeling that the quality of your blogging platform is inversely proportional to how much you blog about keeping your blog up and running.

So my goal was to not worry as much about the technical underpinnings of my blog and spend that time on trying out other things.

Writing a draft blog post should be quick and painless.

Of course, when I really want to, I still want some control to fiddle around with the technical underpinnings. Preferably by my own choice and not because the blog is broken.


So I started building a list for myself of what I thought was important for the blogging platform I'd use:

  • Is it easy to update the software?
  • Is it easy to write posts?
  • Is it SaaS or do I host it myself?
  • Does it cost anything?
  • What dependencies does it have?
  • Does it have a nice templating option?
  • How much control do I have?

And so on.

After some googling, I realised there were MANY platforms. Way too many for me to evaluate them all.

I settled on another approach: I'd check some of the more famous blogs I follow and see what they are using.

I ended up with four options:

Octopress and Jekyll seemed popular with some types of people. But given my recent experiences, I wanted to move away from that. Note that they are working hard on Octopress 3, and I'm sure it'll improve on version 2 a lot.

Wordpress is very popular, and an obvious choice. However, Wordpress and especially the plugins have quite a bad reputation when it comes to security. Also, taking the most obvious choice is not that exciting. I might regret not just going for Wordpress later though, when I break the blog again.

And so there was Ghost. Used by some serious bloggers. And easy to spin up on OpenShift, which I was already using (for free) to run my Octopress blog.

Getting it running with a Postgresql back-end took a few minutes and almost literally "one click".

Moving from Octopress

I had a shortlist of must-haves before I would seriously consider switching to Ghost.

It had to be possible to:

  • update the Ghost software
  • import my existing blog-posts
  • force https

All of these turned out to be relatively easy (except the update process, but possible nonetheless).

Ghost positives

Ghost has some properties I really like:

  • You can create and publish your posts in the web application itself.
  • In Octopress, this required a git push to OpenShift and a prayer it wouldn't break.
  • You get to see your Markdown in preview
  • The default theme is nice and there are many themes available
  • Easy to export the posts and configuration
  • In general, less technical fiddling, more writing.

Ghost negatives

There are some downsides too:

I now have a dynamic site instead of the static pages of Octopress. You can log in and it has a database back-end. So I must watch out for security issues and update frequently.

I'm still self-hosting, so it's still a bit fiddly, but that is my own choice. I could've gone for the hosted solution too, which would eliminate the need for the tricky update process.


Octopress which, in all fairness, did have the slogan "A blogging framework for hackers" brought me to a tough spot. Hacking is much fun, but focussing on something else than keeping the blog alive also seemed quite promising. I felt the barrier for writing a new post was just higher than it should be, and it was too scary.

I'm looking forward to working with Ghost and hope to have a less bumpy ride than I had with Octopress.

But, lets face it, at some point I'll probably switch again just to try something new.